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Dykes, Drongs, Sarns, Snickets

David Craig: Walking England, 20 December 2012

The English Lakes: A History 
by Ian Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £16.99, March 2012, 978 1 4088 0958 7
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The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 432 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 0 241 14381 0
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... savouring of the land – the ‘landscape’ – must overlap with more workmanlike uses of it. Ian Thompson’s history of the Lake District is grounded almost exclusively in the aesthetic. ‘Since the Lake District is an imaginative construction,’ he argues, ‘it has no real boundaries, physical or historical.’ So he is thinking of it as a region ...

On the Window Ledge of the Union

Colin Kidd: Loyalism v. Unionism, 7 February 2013

Belfast 400: People, Place and History 
edited by S.J. Connolly.
Liverpool, 392 pp., £14.95, November 2012, 978 1 84631 634 0
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Ulster since 1600: Politics, Economy and Society 
edited by Liam Kennedy and Philip Ollerenshaw.
Oxford, 355 pp., £35, November 2012, 978 0 19 958311 9
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The Plantation of Ulster: Ideology and Practice 
edited by Eamonn O Ciardha and Micheál O Siochrú.
Manchester, 269 pp., £70, October 2012, 978 0 7190 8608 3
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The End of Ulster Loyalism? 
by Peter Shirlow.
Manchester, 230 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 0 7190 8476 8
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... other community. Ulster is, and remains, a collage of confessional territories. As the late A.T.Q. Stewart remarked in his history of Ulster, The Narrow Ground (1977), every resident of the province carries around in his or her head a complex and detailed geography: they know which villages or streets are Protestant or Catholic, or mixed. These internalised ...

Highland Fling

Rosalind Mitchison, 18 June 1981

Clans and Chiefs 
by Ian Grimble.
Blond and Briggs, 267 pp., £10.95, December 1980, 0 85634 111 8
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... trees go back and states that ‘there is only a slim chance that any Scot does not possess more Stewart blood than the Queen.’ By the same appeal all Englishmen should insert King Alfred into their family tree. A further refinement of snobbery offered here is that of antiquity of language. The fact that Scottish Gaelic carries some archaic features is ...

Bloody

Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... his chest, he lit a cigarette to deceive his men as to the seriousness of the wound. Patrick Shaw Stewart, who reminisced longingly of hot baths and starched shirts, wrote: ‘Every time I remember that nearly all my friends are dead I take some form of imaginary morphia, and promise myself work or love or letters, or fall back on the comfortable reflection ...

Paisley’s Progress

Tom Paulin, 1 April 1982

... In 1969, while he was serving a prison sentence for unlawful assembly, Ian Paisley sent this message to his congregation: I rejoice with you in the rich blessings of last weekend. I knew that our faithful God would pour out His bounty. In prayer in this cell I touched the Eternal Throne and had the gracious assurance of answered prayer ...

Partnership of Loss

Roy Foster: Ireland since 1789, 13 December 2007

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 
by Paul Bew.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, August 2007, 978 0 19 820555 5
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... Lyons, doyen of historians of modern Ireland, when faced 27 years ago with a short life of Charles Stewart Parnell which took implicit but cheeky issue with his own magnum opus on the Chief. The young Bew – Belfast-born and a graduate of People’s Democracy marches as well as of the Cambridge history faculty – had already published a radical marxisant ...

At the Fairground

Tom Nairn, 20 March 1997

Republics, Nations and Tribes 
by Martin Thom.
Verso, 359 pp., £45, July 1995, 1 85984 020 5
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... The Independent on Sunday of 22 December last weighed in with a mere forty crystal-gazers, from Ian Angell, ‘darling of the doom-and-gloom conference circuit’, down to Theodore Zeldin’s ‘persuasively touchy-feely manifesto’, An Intimate History of Humanity. Yet quite a few gloomsters were not checked in, notably éminence noire Conor Cruise ...

Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... An arthritic Chuck Berry on TotP, slobbering the playground snigger of ‘My Ding-a-Ling’? Rod Stewart jiggling his satiny wee buttocks like some bored old burlesque artist? Any of this doing it for you, kids? The backroom intimacy spotlit by Mapplethorpe and Smith looked deeply subversive, but had none of the usual tawdry appliqué of ‘erotica’: its ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... equivalent of the Sgt Pepper’s sleeve: George Foreman, Penelope Keith, Wayne Sleep and Jackie Stewart all choose ‘All You Need Is Love’ on Desert Island Discs; Malcolm Muggeridge and the Maharishi Yogi preen and worship, worship and preen in the same Fabs-scented air.Brown is best known as a master parodist, ventriloquising the voices of public ...

Every Latest Spasm

Christopher Hitchens, 23 June 1994

A Rebel in Defence of Tradition: The Life and ‘Politics’ of Dwight Macdonald 
by Michael Wreszin.
Basic Books, 590 pp., £17.99, April 1994, 0 465 01739 8
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... of Memoirs of a Revolutionist, was a paragraph which put the case very deftly (the reviewer was Ian Watt, author of The Rise of the Novel): Macdonald has genuine analytic power, but he is perhaps best as a satirist; with his quick allergy to cant he in many ways resembles Mencken, and has traces of the latter’s tendency to view the spectacle of human ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... do the revelations on secrets amount to much, with two exceptions. One concerns the life of Sir Stewart Menzies, wartime head of the Secret Intelligence Service, which is, predictably, based on ‘private information’ and ‘personal knowledge’. Yet, uniquely among all the entries, this contribution is unsigned. Is this sinister machination, or merely a ...

Darling, are you mad?

Jenny Diski: Ghost-writing for Naim Attallah, 4 November 2004

Ghosting 
by Jennie Erdal.
Canongate, 270 pp., £14.99, November 2004, 1 84195 562 0
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... names, double and triple barrelled: Heathcote-Amery, Bonham-Carter, Sackville-West, Vane-Tempest-Stewart. And mostly their forenames ended, as well-bred girls’ forenames must, in ‘a’: Nigella, Cosima, Candida, Sophia, Samantha, Sabrina, Lucinda. ‘Famous Englishmen write to me about their daughters,’ Attallah shrugs. ‘What else can I do? I have to ...

Every Club in the Bag

R.W. Johnson: Whitehall and Moscow, 8 August 2002

The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 234 pp., £16.99, March 2002, 0 7139 9626 9
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Know Your Enemy: How the Joint Intelligence Committee Saw the World 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 351 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 7195 6048 9
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... Room 40 in the Admiralty had laid the foundations of modern cryptography during World War One; Stewart Menzies, head of SIS (the model for James Bond’s M); Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Strong from Military Intelligence, who had, in 1940, warned the disbelieving French that Hitler would attack through the Ardennes, and who was later appropriated by ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... of Information, and documentary-makers found themselves in demand as producers of propaganda. Ian Dalrymple, the director of the new Crown Film Unit, became Jennings’s supporter and trusted adviser. London Can Take It (1940), his first notable wartime documentary, made with Harry Watt, is in many ways typical ‘spirit of the ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... coaxing and cajoling ‘a peaceful solution’ out of a kaleidoscope of groups stretching from Ian Paisley’s branch of the Unionists through to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and whoever they officially or unofficially represent. Typically, this ‘peaceful solution’ seems to involve shuffling Northern Ireland into a closer relationship with the ...

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